Ninety-five percent of the 3,400 respondents in a recent DentaVox survey said they have become significantly more demanding of hygiene at the dentist’s office due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, 50% said that the disinfection of dental equipment was the most important hygienic measure that dental offices need to ensure, followed by 22% who said that often-touched surfaces need to be disinfected to maintain proper hygiene in dental practices.
However, DentaVox said, only 61% of respondents said they have actually seen the dental staff disinfecting dental equipment, and 46% have seen staff disinfect often-touched surfaces.
According to the poll, 9% said the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) and 5% said that handwashing and sanitizing were the most important hygiene protocols. On a related note, 67% of respondents have seen dental staff wash their hands, and 50% have seen staff change their PPE.
Meanwhile, 4.2% of respondents said that keeping the office organized was most important, prompting DentaVox to note how tidiness may be confused with hygiene, which the World Health Organization says “refers to conditions and practices that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases.”
Cleanliness is often considered hygienic too, DentaVox said, though that is a misconception as well. Cleaning is the removal of visible dirt, while hygienic cleaning also eliminates invisible dirt, germs, and other pathogens. And while tidiness may mean neat and organized, it does not guarantee cleanliness or good hygiene, DentaVox said.
Also, only 0.76% called open windows and 4.1% called air purification and disinfection priorities, even though 23% said they have seen dental staff opening windows during their last dental visit and 25% said they spotted some sort of air purification system.
Disposable shoe covers are mandatory in many dental clinics, but only 1.3% of respondents said that washing floors was necessary to hygiene, and 18% have seen staff washing floors during their last dental visit.
First impressions matter too, with 55% of respondents forming a first impression simply by looking around the dental office, and 19% of them noting how it smells. Other respondents checked the cleaning protocols or asked or were informed by the staff about the last cleaning session.
The largest proportion of respondents, 41%, judge the hygiene in the office by the state of the tools and equipment used during an appointment. Next came the condition of the entire treatment room at 29%, the condition of the waiting room at 12%, and the condition of the surgical room at 9%.
Only 4% said that the way the dental staff was dressed mattered, while 3.76% said the state of the bathroom was the best indicator for hygienic cleanliness in the dental office. As for PPE, respondents would like to see dental staff wear:
- Protective gloves: 93%
- Face masks: 88%
- Goggles: 61%
- Disposable coats: 46%
- Shoe covers: 39%
- Caps: 16%
- Shields: 15%
During their last dental visit, more than 90% of respondents said their dentist wore gloves and masks; 62% said their dentist wore goggles; 46% said their dentist wore a disposable coat; 35% said their dentist wore shoe covers. Caps and shields were part of their outfit less frequently, which DentaVox called a serious lapse on the dentists’ part.
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